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      February 20, 2020

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Fidelity vs Merrill Edge

Best Online Stock Brokers

To help you find the Best Online Stock Brokers, TopConsumerReviews.com provides you with an in-depth comparison of Fidelity and Merrill Edge.

To see ALL of our reviews for the Best Online Stock Brokers, please Click Here

Who is the Best Online Stock Broker? Whether you consider yourself an avid investor or a beginner just starting to look into the stock market, it's easy to get overwhelmed by all of the stock trading options. Although some people still use traditional stock brokers, many people have found they can save a lot of money by trading stocks themselves.

Besides significant cost savings, another great advantage to executing your own transactions is that you can avoid the time and energy necessary to deal with "professional" stock brokers. Many of these individuals try to convince you to buy or sell stocks, because they earn a commission every time you make a transaction. With online stock brokers, you never have to talk to any salesmen.

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Best Reviews

2020

Online Stock Broker Reviews

4.5 stars
Fidelity

FIDELITY

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Cost:

$4.95/trade

Free for mutual funds

Minimum Deposit:

None

Named as the Best Online Broker by Investor's Business Daily in 2016-2018, Fidelity has the kind of longevity that many competitors can only hope to achieve. Created in Boston in 1946, this full-service brokerage traditionally comes in as the fourth-largest asset manager in the US, with assets under management of approximately $2.4 trillion.

You've got 3 general options when using Fidelity as your online stock broker: self-directed investing at $4.95 per trade (free for mutual funds), digital management with Fidelity Go at a fee of 0.35%/year, or full-service wealth management that requires a minimum investment of $250,000.

Fidelity has an intuitive, attractive suite of tools to help you plan, manage, and understand your investments. Their Stock Screener lets you use your desktop or mobile device to quickly find investments that are a good fit for the criteria you select; you can also get pre-determined stocks that have been screened by third-party experts. The Stock Research Dashboard gives you the ability to discover and validate possible opportunities with helpful research results and data visualization tools, including social trends, charts, and much more.

Their customer service team is also available 24/7 - very helpful for investors who have a question before making a late-night stock trade or who can only devote time to their investment strategy on the weekends.

Another useful perk offered by Fidelity is the Full View feature. You can enter all of your financial information, whether it's a Fidelity account or held at another institution and see all of your online accounts in one place. The Full View capability allows you to track spending, create budgets, and see your transactions in a monthly display.

In fact, the only complaint we could find about Fidelity as an online stock broker was about their Active Trader Pro platform. Clients who participate in the stock market as active traders have said that the Fidelity platform doesn't have the breadth of functions that many competitor brokers offer. But, that won't apply to the large majority of investors, who are looking for an affordable, trustworthy way to manage their stock purchases and other investments.

When it comes to that - affordability, reputation, and helpful customer service - Fidelity is absolutely an online stock broker that measures up.

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3.5 stars
Merrill Edge

MERRILL EDGE

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Cost:

$6.95/trade on stocks and ETFs

Up to 100 free trades per month with Preferred Rewards

Minimum Deposit:

None

Merrill Edge is the investment division of well-known Bank of America. Because of this relationship, they're an ideal choice if you're already banking with BoA: you can get increased rewards, the simplicity of transferring funds between accounts with a single login, and manage both your investments and your banking through the mobile app.

This online stock brokerage has received many awards, including J.D. Power's "Outstanding Customer Service Experience" recognition for 7 consecutive years and Kiplinger's #1 spot among online brokers in 2017.

In general, expect to pay $6.95 per stock trade when using the Merrill Edge self-directed investment platform, along with fees of $0.01 to $0.03 per $1000 of principal when you sell.

You can also get up to 100 free stock trades per month through the Bank of America Preferred Rewards program. At the time of our review, the eligibility requirement was a minimum average combined balance of $50,000 in BoA qualifying accounts (e.g. investment/deposit) to get 30 $0 trades per month, and $100,000 to get up to 100 $0 trades each month. Compared with other online stock brokers that offer free trades with no such requirements, Merrill Edge will definitely tie up a lot of your money in order to qualify for their "rewards".

If you prefer professional portfolio management, either through an online investment advisory program or by working directly with a Merrill Edge Financial Solutions advisor, you can access those services for an additional fee of 0.45% and 0.85%, respectively; minimum investment amounts of $5000 and $20,000 apply.

Merrill Edge's online platform has a number of useful tools that are visually appealing and easy to understand. For example, you can see how your portfolio ranks in terms of a company's environmental, social, and governance (ESG) practices. You can also take advantage of analyst reports on specific holdings, along with recommendations as to buy/sell/hold on individual stocks in your portfolio.

The only negative we found when evaluating Merrill Edge as an online stock broker was with respect to customer service. Some clients complained that the service they received was not as good as they had expected, especially given the brokerage's reputation as an award-winning company. Also, we found some comments describing slower-than-average updates when trades are made.

Overall, Merrill Edge is a trustworthy online stock broker - but unless you're a Bank of America customer for other products, you may find more appealing options with one of the higher-ranked services in our review.

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Continued from above

And, of course, with fluctuations in the economy, and subsequent rises and falls in stock prices, some people panic and pull out significant investments - leaving the door wide open for others to take advantage of big opportunities to buy low and hopefully sell high later.

Of course, the best online stock brokers do have the option to work with a consultant if you choose. Especially if you're just starting to learn about investments, you may feel more comfortable knowing you can access an expert if the need arises. These services may be included, or you may have to pay for them a la carte.

So, when choosing the right online stock broker for your needs, how do you know which one is best? Before you jump in and start buying up your shares in Apple or Coca-Cola, here are some factors to keep in mind:

  • Information. From beginners to experts, having up-to-date information on the stock market is critical. What resources does the online stock broker have available to guide you in your decision-making?
  • Fees. When purchasing your stocks, will you be charged a percentage of your total buy or a flat fee? When the time comes to sell, what will you pay?
  • Reputation. What do other investors say about their experience buying and selling with the online stock broker? Have they had positive interactions with the broker when they've needed help? How many investors have chosen this particular broker's services?

TopConsumerReviews.com has reviewed and ranked the best online stock brokers available today. We hope this information helps you choose the right broker for your stock buying and trading needs!

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